Animism And Mythology

But little need be said on the relation of animism and mythology (q.v.). While a large part of mythology has an animistic basis, it is possible to believe, e.g. in a sky world, peopled by corporeal beings, as well as by spirits of the dead; the latter may even be entirely absent; the mythology of the Australians relates largely to corporeal, non-spiritual beings; stories of transformation, deluge and doom myths, or myths of the origin of death, have not necessarily any animistic basis. At the same time, with the rise of ideas as to a future life and spiritual beings, this field of mythology is immensely widened, though it cannot be said that a rich mythology is necessarily genetically associated with or combined with belief in many spiritual beings.

Animism In Philosophy

The term "animism" has been applied to many different philosophical systems. It is used to describe Aristotle's view of the relation of soul and body held also by the Stoics and Scholastics. On the other hand monadology (Leibnitz) has also been termed animistic. The name is most commonly applied to vitalism, a view mainly associated with G. E. Stahl and revived by F. Bouillier (1813-1899), which makes life, or life and mind, the directive principle in evolution and growth, holding that all cannot be traced back to chemical and mechanical processes, but that there is a directive force which guides energy without altering its amount. An entirely different class of ideas, also termed animistic, is the belief in the world soul, held by Plato, Schelling and others.


Tyler, Primitive Culture; Frazer, Golden Bough; Id. on Burial Customs in J. A. I. xv.; Mannhardt, Baumkultus; G. A. Wilken, Het Animisme; Koch on the animism of S. America in Internationales Archiv, xiii., Suppl.; Andrew Lang, Making of Religion; Skeat, Malay Magic; Sir G. Campbell, "Spirit Basis of Belief and Custom," in Indian Antiquary, xxiii. and succeeding volumes; Folklore, iii. 289. xi. 162; Spencer, Principles of Sociology; Mind (1877), 141, 415 et seq. For animism in philosophy, Stahl, Theoria; Bouillier, Du Principe vital.

(N. W. T.)